Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Freedom and sacrifice

"Remember that your home may be a safe place, your church may be a safe place, your community may even be a safe place, but to many people in this country, your son is always going to be seen as Trayvon Martin."

These words were spoken into the packed break-out session of an adoption conference that The Good Doctor and I attended, the title of the session being, Can Black and White Mix? While we knew many of the realities of being a transracial family, no one had ever put it so bluntly before, at least not in our presence. So far, we have not dealt with face-to-face racism due to our multi-colored family and neither have our children. We are thankful that for our son at least, he has Kenyan relatives who can speak from personal experience and can help him navigate the world in which he lives. Because we do know people who have been followed around in stores, their only crime being that a white father brought his black teen-age son. Just today a fellow adoptive mom posted an incident that happened to her at Wal-mart. The store's alarm appeared to be malfunctioning and was going off as each customer left the building. This mother, at the store with her biracial child, watched as the caucasian greeter allowed each person to leave with a wave of his hand, until it was her turn. Everything was searched from bags to pockets, hers and her daughter's. After leaving, she chose to watch for a period of time to see if she had been imagining the discrimination. To her horror, every single white customer was allowed to leave without a problem. Another mixed family was searched as well as an African American mother and son. Yes, it happens. We can't ignore it.

Today we took some of the children to Gettysburg. No matter how many times I visit Gettysburg, I am sobered not only by the reality of some of the reasons for the battles that made the town famous, of what took place there and the human lives lost, but also by the reality that if the battles had ended differently, the lives of some of my children could be drastically different.

While browsing in the bookstore at one of the museums, I came across a picture book titled, Most Loved in All the World. The story, of a slave woman who gave her child to others so that she could begin the journey to freedom, was heart-wrenching. It was the "Author's Note to Parents and Educators" that compelled me to buy the book.  It reads:

"Although it might be hard for some people to understand how a mother could send a child off into the unknown without her, it was a common fact of slavery. Even in our modern times, for so many reasons, women are forced to do the same - give up their children for adoption or put them into foster care - not because they do not love the child, but often because they simply do not live in conditions in which they can give the child the life he or she deserves. In a way, these mothers place their love and value for their children's future over their own feelings. When I wrote this story, I envisioned a woman, a spy and secret agent on the Underground Railroad, a woman who valued freedom so much that she would desire her child's more than her own. Because the lives of the enslaved were so uncertain, for this woman there could be no false hope of reuniting, although she would desperately want to. Her only concern is that her daughter grows up free and far from the bonds of slavery. Although the documented history about the Underground Railroad has been cloaked, I believe there might have been many 'secret agents' like the mother in this book who sacrificed being with their children for the greater good. I think that the hope in this story is that the little girl gets a chance at freedom knowing that her mother loved her and was unselfish enough to give her that chance even if it meant that they'd never see each other again..." Tonya Cherie Hegamin

This was a perspective I had never thought of before. I realized that this book would not only give me an avenue for helping my younger children understand the plight of slaves but that it would also give me a vehicle for talking about birth parents and the extreme sacrifice that they make. Not a day goes by that we don't think about the birth families of our children. They hurt, they grieve. They continue to live in the conditions which forced them to make the ultimate sacrifice; helping their children gain freedom.

Freedom doesn't come without sacrifice. Oh how our hearts break for the women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their children. We pray for our birth families. We honor them. We love them.

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